Years before J.S. Bach paved the way toward what is now largely considered the height of the German Baroque, Dietrich Buxtehude was hard at work in northern Germany on his own individual union of the Italian and French Baroque styles. His Op. 1 is a sumptuous, dynamic set of seven sonatas scored for violin, gamba, and continuo (played here by cello and harpsichord). Unlike composers both before and after him, Buxtehude was far from formulaic when it came to the organization of his sonatas, each one having its own unique combination and sequence of movements.
…Harald Vogel is an authoritative proponent and guide through all aspects of this music, and the quality of his playing, and of the recordings and choice of instruments can hardly be faulted. Already recognised as interpretations and recordings without equal, certainly in a complete edition, this set has to be considered the current Buxtehude standard bearer.
This recording offers an unusual selection of Dietrich Buxtehude’s vocal music performed by 2010 Grammy® Award winning ensemble Theatre of Voices conducted by Paul Hillier. Among these rarely heard works with texts in Swedish and Latin, we find cantatas in the form of virtuoso concertos, as well as arias and chorale settings and Buxtehude’s only work in the stile antico, the Missa alla brevis.
This ‘themed’ programme by Da Pacem derives from a series of concerts devoted to Bach’s infamous journey on foot to hear Buxtehude play. Did he have leave of absence from his employers? Did the four month absence change his style for ever? Buxtehude achieved a staggering synthesis of the polyphonic, numerical and rhetorical traditions of his predecessors with a very personal poetry, taking care to make his music accessible to everyone, from the specialist to the layman. It is not surprising that Bach took him as his model.
The latest volume of Christopher Herrick’s acclaimed series of Buxtehude’s complete organ works comes from Paris and the admired organ of St-Louis-en-l’Île – formally opened in 2005, and based on the work of Zacharias Hildebrant (1688-1757). As with previous discs, it includes a selection of the composer’s praeludia, ostinato works, canzonettas and canzonas, interspersed with chorale preludes, chorale fantasias and variations.
This latest addition to Christopher Herrick’s acclaimed Buxtehude catalogue is performed on the magnificent Organ of Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge. Everything heard on this disc was composed over three-hundred years ago when printed music was a rarity and organists were required to be highly proficient in the art of improvisation. Certainly none of Buxtehude’s organ works was printed in his lifetime, and it was not until 1875 that they first became available. Herrick’s communication is exceptional in these stimulating performances and his inspired interpretations are so vivid that they appear improvisatory in their approach.
By the end of his life, the fame of Dietrich Buxtehude as an organist was so great that in 1706 the young J.S. Bach took four weeks’ leave from his employment at Arnstadt and travelled on foot over 200 miles to Lübeck to hear him perform in concert. Ironically, the meteoric rise of the career of Bach himself as a composer meant that, until very recently, Buxtehude was primarily known simply as a forerunner to the great man, when in fact he was a major composer in his own right.
Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637–1707) spent his career working as an organist in churches, but was also a prolific composer of secular instrumental music and wrote far more for harpsichord than most composers of his era. Buxtehude’s position in Lübeck and fame as an organist brought him into contact with many of the greatest musicians of his day, and his style demonstrates the variety of musical influences that he was exposed to, particularly from German and Italian repertoire, which he combined to create a unique personal style.